CCTV in slaughter houses

I believe that slaughterhouses must abide by high animal welfare standards and show compassion and respect. The previous Labour Government had a proud record on animal welfare and on improving welfare standards in the production and processing of food. The previous Labour Government's Animal Welfare Act (2006) places a requirement on abattoir operators not to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal.

While I am sure that the vast majority of people that work in UK slaughterhouses abide by high animal welfare standards, video evidence acquired by the charity Animal Aid shows some appalling mistreatment of animals and it is distressing to see this kind of behaviour taking place in British slaughterhouses.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the installation of CCTV in slaughterhouses. Indeed, since 2011 all major supermarkets in the UK have required CCTV monitoring of animals at slaughter throughout their supply chains. I would like to see all abattoirs taking steps to ensure their staff abide by tough animal welfare laws, and as part of this I believe that there is a strong case for CCTV monitoring to be mandatory.

I know that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) supports the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses as an effective monitoring tool for animal welfare to ensure necessary standards are being met at all times. The Farm Animal Welfare Committee, which advises the Government on the welfare of farmed animals, also recommends that slaughterhouses install CCTV in a structured and proportionate way. However, it does not suggest this should be mandatory.

During the last Parliament, the Coalition Government was not convinced of the need for further legislation. The current Government also believes it is not necessary to legislate, stating that the FSA estimate that 94% of cattle, 96% of pig, 90% of sheep and 99% of poultry throughput in Britain now comes from premises with CCTV in use. The Government says it is exploring ways to encourage take up of CCTV in remaining slaughterhouses.

I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised on this issue and over the need to ensure high standards are maintained in our food supply chain. I can assure you I will continue to monitor this issue closely and will press the Government to protect the highest possible animal welfare standards.

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